On March 20th, grassroots activists across the globe will celebrate the twenty-third international Meatout. Organized in 1985 by FARM, Meatout is a day for activists to promote a plant-based diet through leafleting, tabling, cooking, blogging, holding lectures, performances, walks, or concerts.
Why participate in Meatout? According to the Meatout website, “Kicking the meat habit holds lasting benefits for consumer health, world hunger, resource conservation, environmental quality and animal welfare.”
Since becoming a vegan seven weeks ago, I’ve been pondering the connections between reduced meat consumption, vegetarianism, veganism, and Unitarian Universalism. Or, if you’ll allow the pun, you could say that I’ve been chewing on the seventh principle: We covenant to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
As the Meatout website says, there are many reasons to eliminate or reduce meat consumption. I decided to adopt a vegan diet because I did not want to be complicit in systems of animal cruelty, such as battery caging, which house 98% of America’s egg-laying hens, or the veal industry, which is supported by the dairy industry. Dropping my resistance to learning about the cruel treatment of cows and chickens, allowing myself to be changed by what I learned, and finally going vegan has fostered a radical awareness of my accountability in the web of existence.
Other UUs follow the seventh principle in different ways. Take my co-workers in the Washington Office, for example: Adam buys local produce and commutes to our office by walking or biking. In his free time, he likes to hike and canoe. Alex uses a clothes horse to dry his laundry and subscribes to a local CSA . He and his seven housemates also practice reduced meat consumption. Grace carries reusable bags when she goes shopping, and plans to outfit her future children in cloth diapers, just like her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother did.
So while I wish in my animal-loving heart of hearts that everyone would stop eating meat, or at least practice reduced and conscientious meat consumption, I know that we all have different ways of honoring our relationship with the environment and all beings.
But whether you’re a vegan, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian, a locavore, a freegan, or a lover of steak and eggs, I invite you to celebrate and learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet on March 20! . . . . And to make it fair, on March 20th I’ll use a clothes horse and walk to work.
Take a look at Meatout’s website for events, ways to get involved, resources on plant-based diets, and meat-free cooking advice. If your church is planning to do something for Meatout, you can register your event in the Meatout Event Directory. And for more information about Unitarian Universalism and animal welfare, check out UFETA, Unitarian Universalists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
I wish you all a merry Meatout!